Swiss Post Transforms its Services with IoT and LoRaWAN®

SwissPost digitally transforms Switzerland’s postal services through LoRaWAN® technology, by rolling out over 100,000 SmartButtons, allowing an on-demand delivery service in villages throughout the whole country. To connect them all, SwissPost is using the Swisscom’s nationwide LoRaWAN network, deployed and operated on Actility’s ThingPark platform since 2015.

Carrying out postal transactions at people’s front doors Nowadays, more and more competitors have come into the postal landscape during the past few years, obliging competing companies to up their game, having to offer the best service possible, including fast deliveries, lower prices, and exceptional service. Swiss Post makes sure to stay ahead of the game. Also, the postal Services Act issued recently, requires Swiss Post to ensure access to a basic universal postal service to citizens in all areas of the country, making the need for effective delivery in unpopulated areas crucial.To solve these challenges, Swiss Post created a four-year business strategy in which digital development was required.400,000 Swiss households now do their postal business conveniently at their doorstep with the home delivery service. Swiss Post has now digitized this service and, in addition to an online solution, is also providing its customers with a new “order pen” – with a button that has it all.Anyone who lives in a community with home service and has previously done their postal business with a clipboard will have two options in the future: Customers with a digital affinity can place their orders using their smartphone, tablet or PC. In turn, customers who do not want digital services can use the new order pen – the SmartButton. Although it is not connected to the internet, it is highly innovative. With this option, Swiss Post is responding to the different customer needs in the population.The mail carrier is ordered at the push of a button Swiss Post came up with a perfect solution of the Internet of Things era – the Smart Buttons: battery-operated LoRaWAN®-connected devices, which incorporate Semtech’s LoRa transceivers and optical identification code (OID Codes), in order to optimize the postal service ordering process by allowing people to place orders for postal supplies and services in the easiest possible way, through just one click. A solution which especially benefits villages lacking postal office branches.Swiss Post assembled an innovation team which worked with Miromico, a Zurich-based technology services design company with more than 17 years of market experience designing hardware and creating tailor-made solutions for customers including IBM, Infineon, Roche, and Coop Group, and after several tests, the devices have proved to be very convenient, as they are easy to work by people who are not used to smartphones or ordering products online.As a user, if you want to sending letters and parcels, order stamps, withdraw cash or pay bills – you can simply scan the right code with the pen and place the order. The postman receives a message straight away.The order pen is basically suitable for all customers in a home service area who do not want to order home service with their smartphone, tablet or PC. In this way, you can carry out the desired postal transactions easily and conveniently at the push of a button. Neither a login nor a password is required. The order pen is very easy to use. The digital home service is sustainable because it eliminates the need for additional routes for the postman and reduces CO2 emissions are reduced. The postman receives the order message directly on the hand scanner and sees immediately whether a customer needs something from him. As a result, there are no more empty trips. Until now, the postman only saw this on the sign on the mailbox. And thanks to the accessibility, the solution is also fully available to people with disabilities.Unlike competing order-on-demand solutions, the Smart Button reader does not need to be connected to a household’s Wi-Fi nor to be configurated, allowing users to use them without previous configuration. Smart Buttons run on batteries which can last up to 10 years, and don’t need any SIM cards. These devices also overcome one of the biggest challenges in this use case, connectivity. Smart Buttons can also reach up to 10 kilometers, eliminating the options of using Wi-Fi or 4/5G.

The network technology behind it all The order pen sends data via the low-frequency radio network for the Internet of Things – LoRaWAN®  (Long Range Wide Area Network). This open standard connectivity technology is a proven leader for smart applications, delivering solutions that are easy to scale, optimizing operational cost and reducing utility waste. It allows to leverage its extremely long-range and low-power capabilities to cover thousands of kilometers at low cost, especially in remote areas which are challenging to reach, and to install LoRaWAN® devices providing data in real time, while lasting for years on one battery charge.In contrast to most other technologies, the order pen only sends when the button is pressed and every 72 hours for between 26 milliseconds and 1.4 seconds, depending on the location. This is the only way to keep the order pen running for years with a battery.After carefully considering building its own LoRaWAN® network, Swiss Post decided to collaborate with Swisscom, a national telecom provider. Both companies agreed to develop a plan to ensure the expansion of LoRaWAN® network coverage. Swisscom has deployed Switzerland’s only nationwide LoRaWAN network, powered by Actility, which covers 97% of the Swiss population.Actility offers a network solution for Swisscom that includes ThingPark Wireless platform, base stations, central network controllers, and management platforms for low-power sensor provisioning and network monitoring. The full ThingPark solution is a key element in the roll-out of LPWA and LoRaWAN® networks by operators. Today, over 50 global operators are managing their LoRaWAN networks using ThingPark.

Today, the solution has not only been expanded beyond rural areas and been adopted by Swiss citizens but has also been introduced and utilized for new market opportunities. Other businesses are using Smart Buttons to efficiently order items of any kind. The on-demand usage of the button is a useful alternative against time-consuming order processes and helps coordination with suppliers.Swiss Post uses the LoRaWAN network for other services and is developing many new applications, like Smart ordering in warehouse logistics, Smart Parcels or even the Smart Postbox:

About Actility Actility is a world leader in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark™ platform and network technology to deploy, operate and maintain public and private wireless IoT networks within a unified, scalable and versatile network infrastructure. The vast majority of nationwide LoRaWAN® network service providers (over 50) and hundreds of companies trust ThingPark™ all over the world. Through its subsidiary Abeeway, Actility also provides patented ultra-low power tracking solutions. ThingPark Market offers the largest selection of interoperable IoT gateways, devices and applications to simplify and accelerate deployment of use cases.

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